Teaching a new topic – some thinking before we start

5875252599_fb66f23735_zI’m teaching a course for an exam board that is new to me, with some new topics next year. As I was thinking about this,  I realised that this was going to happen again next year to all history teachers, when new AS and A2 specs are taught for the first time.  So, I thought I’d record my thinking, partly in the hope that I can hear what others are doing, and partly so I can improve the process for next year, when we all have to do it again.  Inspired by Katharine Burn’s article in Teaching History 154 about approaching the eighteenth century, and by Ian Dawson’s Saturday Night special at SHP2104, I decided to document what I have done to find out about the new topic.

The new topic is Weimar Germany and the rise of Nazi party in Germany in the late 1920s and 1930s.  That’s right, I’ve never taught the Nazis.  I’ve been teaching 10 years, and I’m a “Modern World” GCSE teacher (whatever that means nowadays), and I’ve never really taught about Nazi Germany.  Now, that’s not to say that I know nothing about the period.  I have taught it from an international perspective – explaining the failure of the League of Nations, and appeasement.  I’ve even taught old-style coursework about the Reichstag Fire.  However, as I start this process I’m sorry to say I don’t know very much about Germany’s domestic situation in the 1920s and 1930s.  That said, when I started teaching history I knew very little about the Unification of Italy, and now I’ve written a book about it, so equipped with high expectations of myself and a growth mindset… here we go.

Below is a list of questions that I drafted on the back of an envelope.  They are things that I think I should be finding out about as I prepare to learn.  I will try to answer some of these as I go along, but I may also add to the list as I think of things.  If anyone has any answers / suggestions please do feel free to comment, or drop me a line on twitter – you’ll see my feed on the right.

Examinations and Assessments

How do these topics fit in with school and external exam board req’ts?

KS3 – there may be internal assessments, these will impact on your freedom of movement, but they might also help you structure some your plans.

KS4&5 what are examination requirements, topic and question rubrics?

Are there any schemes of work

Colleagues have any?  Do your friends or twitter-mates have any?  Can you re-use or integrate some schemes you’ve used previously?

Banks of resources

Does the department maintain central banks of resources, physical electronic or both?

Eating the Elephant

What are the key dates, half term, assessment?  How should you split up your teaching time?  When are the dates for internal assessments and communication with parents – what impact will this have on when and how you teach elements of the course.

what are they key cultural artefacts?

Books, novels, film (trailers especially good), television, music.

What history should I read?

Last, and most importantly, are there key historians and any key texts that I should be reading?




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